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Friday, August 26, 2011

Three Grand Slams

My Yankees just made history - they hit three grand slams in one ball game.  There aren’t too many things more exciting than a grand slam, at least in terms of baseball.

Yankee Stadium

I’ve experienced a few grand slams recently in terms of wine as well, some beautiful wines that left quite an impression and were so exciting while I enjoyed them.  The wines themselves left an impression, but it was also the way they made me feel that was memorable - I was excited, I was fascinated, and I was really pleased with each of them.
The most recent was the 2007 Ferrari-Carano Alexander Valley Chardonnay, which was paired with lobster flambe at Casa Rustica here on Long Island.  The pairing was perfect - the light golden Chardonnay had notes of lemon, apple, orchard fruit, pineapple, and tropical fruit, gentle spice and pepper, and baked aromas and flavors, and that buttery characteristic that I love so much.  The texture was soft and smooth and the finish was long with just a hint of sweetness and spice.  The wine mirrored the lobster and its sauce and the pairing was almost magical - it brought both the dinner and the wine over the top.  For a Chardonnay lover like me, this wine is near perfect, especially with lobster flambe.

2007 Ferrari-Carano Alexander Valley Chardonnay

Another grand slam sort of pairing I had fairly recently was at another Long Island restaurant, Vintage Steakhouse.  With my filet mignon, I had the 2006 Joseph Phelps Cabernet Sauvignon.  I had actually looked first at one of my favorite Pinot Noirs, and then at a Barolo, but ultimately decided on the Phelps, and I am so happy I did, as it is now among my favorite American wines.  Cabernet Sauvignon, probably my favorite red, leaves me most satisfied when it’s big, bold, and special.  And the 2006 Phelps is just that - inky purple and loaded with deep fruit characteristics, bold spices, smoke, and an overall dark ripeness about it.  The texture is soft and full, and wine is elegant and well balanced, and the finish is long and memorable.  As soon as I took my first sip, I was really glad I had not gone with Pinot or Barolo that night - this Cabernet is amazing.

2006 Joseph Phelps Cabernet Sauvignon

One of the most exciting wine moments I’ve ever experienced came just hours after I graduated law school several years back.  We opened the 2000 Louis Roederer Cristal Brut, and it was my first extraordinary Champagne.  I think it’s safe to say that just about everyone feels happy with a glass of bubbles in their hand, but this was different, and every time I went back for another sip, it felt like a special privilege to be tasting it, and to know that beautiful bottle had been opened to celebrate my special occasion.  Aside form the gorgeous bottle, the Champagne itself has a lovely appearance, with a somewhat light golden color and very small bubbles, and characteristics of green apple, a hint of white citrus and peach, white flowers, an indication of gentle spice, and wood, and some toasted characteristics.  The way it all came together, plus the elegant texture, and big presence that surprised me very much - to me, it was everything a celebratory bottle should be, and it was a sensation I’ll never forget.

2000 Louis Roederer Cristal Brut Champange

I’m asked fairly often if it’s really worth spending the money on an expensive bottle or wine or on a pricey bottle of vintage Champagne.  My feeling is that yes, it sure is worth it, because investing in such a bottle gives the buyer the opportunity to experience something truly great and exciting.  You have no chance of experiencing something special and memorable otherwise.  And I’ve heard so many baseball fans complain that going to a game is no longer worth the cost - it’s easier to sit at home in front of the tv and watch the game.  However, it’s not possible to get the same sensation at home as when you’re actually there to feel the crowd electrified when something great or memorable happens - like a grand slam, or a no-hitter, or that elusive triple play.  For me, hearing the crack of the bat for a home run or the pop of a cork of a special bottle of Champagne - I immediately realize something special could happen - something I won’t want to forget.  Yes, it’s worth it.


  1. I am a strong believer that the pleasure of wine is half atmosphere and half wine-making skill, and that the experience cannot be complete if one component of the equation is missing. But that also raises the question: Must the wine be expensive to create a memorable atmosphere? There certainly is an expectation and pressure to perform when we serve a pricey label. I think your use of the words: sensation and privilege truly sum up the experience Jac, and I definitely agree that fine wine is worth the extra expense.


  2. I agree that the Ferrari-Carano Alexander Valley Chardonnay is a wonderful wine. I really like this winery for their other wines as well.